Spring is fast approaching in Dallas, TX, and we are quickly turning our attention towards preparing our yards for the warm weather. Outdoor living spaces with all of the amenities featured inside the home are becoming the norm, but even if your home has a more modest backyard, having high quality and easy-to-access music will help draw your family outdoors to enjoy the changing season.
Most people would love to have an outdoor speaker system for their DFW smart home, so let's go over a few of the available options. We will start with the most simple, yet highly enjoyable, systems, and work our way to the ideal backyard speaker system known as landscape audio.
Sonos Speakers Outdoors
Sonos is probably the most well known name in wireless music systems, and for good reason. Sonos speakers sound fantastic, they are robust and they are easy-to-use. Many of our clients have told us a Sonos system reintroduced them to music they forgot that they loved.
Sonos speakers are meant to be used indoors, but they do have a little secret. The smallest Sonos speaker, the Play:1, is designed to work in high-humidity environments like bathrooms, kitchens and even Texas summers! To be clear, the Sonos Play:1 would be ruined if it got wet from rain, but they are durable little speakers and could do well on many a covered Texas patio.
The Sonos Play:1 isn't a perfect outdoor speaker, but it is a better experience than any bluetooth speaker I have ever used, and will work great if you don't have the ability or budget to wire for traditional outdoor speakers.
Traditional Outdoor Speakers
The traditional outdoor “box” speaker (shown below) has long been the most popular speaker style for listening to music outdoors. They can sound very nice, play loud and will last a long time in outdoor conditions, even when receiving direct sun and rain. Outdoor speakers exist at just about every quality level and price point, and are available in countless styles. Companies like Leon and James Loudspeaker will even custom build speakers to match your home, landscaping or your teak boat!
While they might sound like the best option there are a few limitations. First, they have to be plugged into an amplifier, typically located inside the home. This is actually a plus (as electronics last longer indoors) assuming your home is already wired for them, otherwise it may be a significant inconvenience. We can provide a consultation to determine what it would require to get speakers installed in your home for free.
A second limitation comes for where they are typically installed. Most homes that have outdoor speakers already wired have them on the patio. From our experience this isn't a great solution for many homes. Typically the people wanting to listen to music the loudest are out in the yard, playing in the pool, jumping on a trampoline, etc. The people on the patio are often the adults, hoping for a quiet conversation while the children entertain themselves. This ends up with the inevitable tug-of-war between the kids asking for the music to be played louder, while the parents can no longer have a conversation.
If this sounds familiar to you, you aren't alone, and that is where our last option can help.
Similar to the “rock speaker” of the previous few decades, landscape audio aims to move the music from the patio to the yard itself. Instead of aiming the speakers at your neighbors, we recommend moving the speakers into the yard, and aiming them back towards your own home. Rock speakers were a great idea, but they rarely appeared camouflaged within a yard (typically drawing more attention to themselves) and the didn't always last very long.
New landscape audio systems from James Loudspeaker and Sonance look much like landscape lights, and are placed throughout the yard in a similar manner. They can be mounted on stakes in the ground, attached to homes and fences, and even placed in trees! One company, Coastal Source, makes much larger speakers called “bollards” that still blend beautifully into a landscaped yard, particularly on a large estate where sound needs to travel further to reach potential listeners.
To make these much smaller speakers sound larger than life subwoofers are partially buried in the ground, allowing beautiful, full-range, music to be heard outdoors, while minimizing the aesthetic impact of having dozens of speakers installed in your landscaping. By spreading the speakers around the yard everyone gets the ideal volume, with no dead-spots, and no areas so loud they can't be inhabited by adults interested in conversation.
The best part of modern outdoor music systems is how easy they are to use. For our clients listening to music in their backyard is as simple as pulling out their smartphone and opening an app. No big black boxes, knobs or switches, just a simple and intuitive app that lets them access all of their music from anywhere on their property. This same experience can be provided for existing systems, often in just a couple of hours using systems like Sonos, Control4, ELAN and Savant.
Whether you are just getting your current patio ready for the Spring, you are renovating your home our you are building brand new, getting music to your outdoor living areas will make your home more enjoyable. Whatever your setup and whatever your budget, Audio Video Innovations has a solution that will help you make the most of the beautiful weather headed our way.